Why October 26 Is the Day Women Start Working for Free

Updated 10/26/17

It’s no secret women still have far to go in terms of equality and respect. A simple scan of the headlines swirling around the daily news cycle will remind you of that. One obstacle that persistently remains is the gender pay gap. Today, a full-time working woman still makes about 80% of what a man does. That equates to about 10 weeks of unpaid work each year. According to this logic, October 26 is the precise day that women start working for free for the rest of the year, according to The Washington Post.

While factors like occupation, working hours, level of education, and location all affect the pay gap on an individual basis, the gap still exists. The Post reports that economists have found that, even after adjusting for age, education, and experience, there is an unexplainable gap between pay for men and women.

Some argue that women simply choose lower-paying or part-time jobs, but this mode of thinking does not take into account the social factors that lead women to certain occupations or to work fewer hours—the fact that the U.S. falls behind many other developed countries when it comes to paid parental leave definitely plays a role in this.

Curious to see the exact wage gap for your profession? The newspaper has created a detailed chart outlining both jobs held by mostly women and jobs held by mostly men in order to generate a clear picture of how the pay gap plays out in both categories. For example, when looking at the top 10 occupations with the most men, the median hourly pay for men is $17.64. Women working in one of the top 10 occupations with the most women only make $16.01.

But there’s hope yet. More and more young women are earning college degrees (a factor that a Glassdoor study found to account for less than 15% of the “explainable” gap). While the gap is still all too real, it’s growing smaller for women under the age of 35. The only way to truly achieve equality is to address the cultural causes of the disparities between men and women, something you can fight for with small wins every day.

Head to The Washington Post for a detailed analysis of the gender pay gap, and follow five Instagram accounts for some serious career inspiration next.

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